Six Indian American Scientists, Writers, Scholars, and Artists Named Guggenheim Fellows

Six Indian Americans are among 180 scientists, writers, scholars, and artists who have been named Guggenheim Fellows. They were chosen from a rigorous application and peer review process out of almost 2500 applicants, “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise,” the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation said.

Indian American fellows include Prashant K. Jain, Professor of Chemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Chemistry); Shrikanth Narayanan, University Professor and Nikias Chair in Engineering, University of Southern California (Computer Science); Manjul Bhargava, Brandon Fradd, Class of 1983, Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University (Mathematics); Suparna Rajaram, Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science, Stony Brook University, SUNY (Psychology); Jyoti Puri, Hazel Dick Leonard Chair and Professor of Sociology, Simmons University (Sociology): and Manisha Sinha, Draper Chair in American History, University of Connecticut.

Prashant K. Jain received his B.Tech. from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Georgia Tech. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley, following which he joined the University of Illinois faculty. He has affiliations with the Materials Research Lab, the Department of Physics and the Beckman Institute. His research focuses on the understanding and control of light-matter interactions on the nanoscale and the use of confined light for artificial photosynthesis and imaging atomistic dynamics of complex solids and catalysts.

Shrikanth Narayanan has an MS, and Ph.D., all in electrical engineering, from UCLA in 1990, 1992, and 1995, respectively, and his bachelor of engineering in electrical engineering from the College of Engineering, Guindy in Chennai. He has previously worked with AT&T Labs-Research, Florham Park and AT&T Bell Labs, Murray Hill, first as a senior member and later as a principal member of its Technical Staff. He is also a professor in the Signal and Image Processing Institute of USC’s Ming Hsieh Electrical & Computer Engineering department with joint appointments as a Professor in Computer Science, Linguistics, Psychology, Neuroscience, Pediatrics and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He is the inaugural director of the Ming Hsieh Institute and a research director for the Information Sciences Institute at USC. Additionally, he is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA), the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

Manjul Bhargava is the youngest full professor of mathematics at Princeton University. His research interests span algebraic number theory, combinatorics, and representation theory. Bhargava joined the Princeton faculty in 2003. His research focuses on number theory, the study of whole numbers and their relationship to each other. He graduated from Harvard University in 1996 and received his doctorate from Princeton in 2001, working under Andrew Wiles. His breakthrough Ph.D. thesis surprised the mathematical community by generalizing the classical Gauss composition law for quadratic forms to many other situations. He has won several awards for his research, including the AMS – MAA – SIAM Frank and Brennie Morgan Prize, a Clay Research Fellowship, the Clay Research Award in 2005, and the Leonard M. and Eleanor B. Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics. He was named one of Popular Science Magazine’s “Brilliant 10” in November 2002. He recently won the American Mathematical Society’s Cole Prize in number theory and the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize for his outstanding contributions to number theory.

Suparna Rajaram received her BA from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore. She then received her MA from Bangalore University and MS in Cognitive Psychology from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Rice University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Cognitive Neuroscience at Temple University School of Medicine. She joined Stony Brook University as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in 1993, received tenure and promotion to associate professor in 1998, and became full professor of Psychology in 2003. She has also served as the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University. Her group conducts research on human learning and memory, with a major focus on the social aspects of memory. She received an early career FIRST Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), and her research has since been supported by NIMH, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Russell Sage Foundation, and Google. She is also a recipient of the Psychonomic Society’s Inaugural Clifford T. Morgan Distinguished Leadership Award (2019) and the Visiting Scholar CLASS Award (Center for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences) from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (2018).

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Jyoti Puri writes and teaches at the crossroads of sociology, sexuality studies, death studies, and postcolonial feminist theory. Her most abiding interests relate to issues of sexuality, gender, race, nation, state, death, and religion from a transnational / postcolonial feminist lens. Her most recent book, “Sexual States: Governance and the Struggle against the Antisodomy Law in India’s Present,” was published by Duke University Press (2016). It received the Distinguished Book Award from the Sociology of Sexualities Section of the American Sociological Association in 2018. Her previous books include, “Woman, Body, Desire in Post-colonial India” (Routledge 1999) and “Encountering Nationalism” (Blackwell Publishers 2004 ). She is currently co-editing (with Ghassan Moussawi) a monograph, “Social Landscapes of Death,” for The Sociological Review Monograph Series (forthcoming 2021) and a special issue on “Feminist Mournings” (with Kimberly Juanita Brown) for the journal, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism (forthcoming 2021).

Manisha Sinha is a leading authority on the history of slavery and abolition and the Civil War and Reconstruction. She was born in India and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University where her dissertation was nominated for the Bancroft prize. She is the author of “The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina,” which was named one of the ten best books on slavery in Politico in 2015 and recently featured in The New York Times’ 1619 Project. Her multiple award-winning second monograph, “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition,” was long-listed for the National Book Award for Non-Fiction. It was named Editor’s Choice in the New York Times Book Review, book of the week by Times Higher Education to coincide with its UK publication, and one of three great History books of 2016 in Bloomberg News. She is the eighth recipient of the James WC Pennington Award in 2021 from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. In 2018, she was a visiting professor at the University of Paris, Diderot and was elected to the Society of American Historians. She is a member of the Board of the Society of Civil War Historians and of the Council of Advisors of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg, New York Public Library.

Created and initially funded in 1925 by Senator Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son John Simon Guggenheim, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has sought since its inception to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions. ” Since its establishment, the Foundation has granted nearly $ 400 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are more than 125 Nobel laureates, members of all the national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award, and other internationally recognized honors. The great range of fields of study is a unique characteristic of the Fellowship program.

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